Understanding Cauliflower Ear – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Understanding Cauliflower Ear – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Blog Synopsis:

  • Cauliflower ear is a condition caused by a blunt trauma or injury; this ear deformity is common in boxing and wrestling.
  • When this injury occurs, blood and oxygen can’t reach the tissue in the ear, further damaging the auricle (cartilage part of the ear covered by skin).
  • In this blog, the physicians at AOC explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments associated with cauliflower ear.

Cauliflower ear is a physical deformity that causes the auricle to have a lumpy and bumpy appearance. As we mentioned in the blog synopsis, this condition causes the ear to resemble a cauliflower. While cauliflower ear may look serious or painful, early treatment can help prevent further permanent damage to the ear’s tissues.

Additionally, people who are increasingly susceptible to cauliflower ear, such as wrestlers and boxers, can prevent this phenomenon by wearing protective gear around their ears. In this blog, the physicians at AOC explain what the causes, symptoms, and treatments are for patients with cauliflower ear.


The most common cause of cauliflower ear is an injury or traumatic blow to the ear. More often than not, repeated hits to the ear are what cause the skin to pull away from the cartilage, giving the ear it’s rigid and bumpy shape. When this occurs, small hematomas form, which continues to block the flow of blood, oxygen, and other nutrients to the ear. While cauliflower ear is usually caused by a sports injury from wrestling or boxing, it is possible for this deformity to occur from an infection of the ear lobe as well.


Cauliflower ear itself doesn’t usually produce symptoms, but the initial cause can. After the damage occurs from a blow to the side of the head or infection, patients may experience redness, bruising, or swelling around the injury site. If this injury isn’t treated right away, patients will start to develop the physical signs of cauliflower ear. It’s important patients do not ignore their symptoms or the fact that they sustained a head injury. While cauliflower ear isn’t life-threatening, a concussion can be, so patients should see their doctor right after they receive a blow to the head and ear.   


As we mentioned previously, cauliflower ear can be prevented with prompt treatment. Once you experience the injury, see a doctor right away. He or she may ease the blockage by making a small incision in the ear and draining the accumulating blood. After draining the blood or removing the blood clot to prevent further bleeding, the physician will stitch up the ear and apply pressure to the area with a special bandage. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to patients as a supplemental treatment option. After treating the area, your doctor may recommend prevention techniques to avoid future damage to the ear.

Athletes who are increasingly susceptible to cauliflower ear should wear appropriate headgear to prevent damage to the ears. Other prevention methods include avoiding dangerous activities that may cause cauliflower ear. For more information on this condition, please talk to your AOC physician today!

Arizona Otolaryngology Consultants (AOC) is a comprehensive ENT clinic that provides care for all diseases of the ears, nose, throat, and sinuses. The physicians at AOC have the highest level of training and expertise in ENT care and ENT subspecialty care, which includes the management of pediatric airway, cancer, skull base surgery, advanced head and neck surgical and reconstructive procedures, craniofacial surgery and more. Call 602-264-4834 to request an appointment today!

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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